The best way to tell if someone is a conservative

Taft, whom Rosen calls “the only president to approach the office in constitutional terms above all.”

Wilson was the first president to criticize the American founding, particularly for the separation of powers that crimps presidential supremacy. Roosevelt believed that presidents are free to do whatever the Constitution does not forbid. Taft’s constitutional modesty held that presidents should exercise only powers explicitly granted by the document.

.. Romanticizers of Roosevelt ignore his belief that no moral equivalent of war could be as invigorating as the real thing

.. Taft“extended federal environmental protection to more land than Roosevelt” — and he created 10 national parks — “and brought more antitrust suits in one term than Roosevelt brought in nearly two.”

.. Roosevelt thought that, in industry, big was beautiful (because efficiently Darwinian) if big government supervised it.

.. Taft unsuccessfully resisted President William McKinley’s entreaties that he become governor of the Philippines (“I have never approved of keeping the Philippines”).
.. In 1912, Roosevelt’s “New Nationalism” promised populism rampant and a plebiscitary presidency untethered from constitutional inhibitions: “I don’t think that any harm comes from the concentration of powers in one man’s hands.”
.. And “I believe in pure democracy,” the purity being unmediated, unfiltered public opinion empowered even to overturn state court decisions by referendums.
.. The 1912 strife between conservative and progressive-populist Republicans simmered until Ronald Reagan’s election in 1980 sealed conservatism’s ascendancy in the party.

The American Renaissance Is Already Happening

People who read this column know my political ideology: I’m a Whig. If progressives generally believe in expanding government to enhance equality, and libertarians try to reduce government to expand freedom, Whigs seek to use limited but energetic government to enhance social mobility.

Back in the 19th century, during their heyday, Whigs promoted infrastructure projects, public education, public-private investments and character-building programs to create dynamic, capitalist communities in which poor boys and girls could rise and succeed.

Whigs admired people and places that are enterprising, emotionally balanced and spiritually ardent. They had a great historic run — inspired by Alexander Hamilton, led by Henry Clay and Daniel Webster, embodied most brilliantly in the minds of Abraham Lincoln and the early Theodore Roosevelt.

China Mistakenly Challenges Andrew Jackson to a Duel

China Mistakenly Challenges Andrew Jackson to a Duel USS Ronald Reagan and ships of Carrier Strike Group 5 transit the Pacific Ocean in June 2017.

A Chinese diplomat’s insulting words invite a vigorous response from the U.S. The United States Navy will be making a port call in Taiwan in the near future. The only questions that remain are where, when, and how many ships of what type will drop anchor or tie up at Taiwanese piers. Of course, this may cause a war to break out in Asia, but it won’t be one of the United States’ making. We owe this troubling possibility to a China whose rising sense of anticipatory greatness is at odds with its capacity to execute a successful war. Hubris stimulated a Chinese official, Li Kexin, who is attached to its embassy in Washington, D.C., to threaten war against the United States. Li was responding to fairly normal language within the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act that allowed for mutual port visits between American and Taiwan naval vessels. In response, Li stated: “The day that a U.S. Navy vessel arrives in Kaohsiung [Taiwan’s main deep-water port] is the day that our People’s Liberation Army unifies Taiwan with military force.”

Under these conditions, the United States has no choice but to send the United States Navy to Taiwan for a port visit, and to do so in a big way. The USS Ronald Reagan, a Nimitz-class super carrier based in Japan, with its entire embarked air wing of 65 strike fighters and reconnaissance aircraft and its accompanying escort strike group of Ticonderoga-class Aegis cruisers and Arleigh Burke-class ballistic-missile-defense destroyers, should quickly sortie to Taiwan. They should divide up, with one portion of the strike group transiting down the strait that separates the island from China and the other coming down the eastern coast, meeting up at the southern tip to escort the Reagan into port at Kaohsiung. At that point, the other strike-group ships should either take up station north and south of Taiwan, with their Aegis radars at full alert given the nature of Mr. Li’s threat, or rotationally enter other ports in Taiwan for friendly port visits. The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine Michigan, carrying 154 Tomahawk missiles, should also make an appearance, before quietly disappearing into the depths to continue its lonely patrols. Such a move would be an effective demonstration of American naval coercive diplomacy worthy of Theodore Roosevelt.

.. Additionally, the United States should consider a robust, healthy defensive-arms sale package for Taiwan in the coming year. Surface ships and fighter aircraft, top-of-the-line fifth-generation stealth fighters, should be part of the package,

..All of this will be viewed by China as escalatory, and it should be, but the Chinese must be reminded that it was their intemperate language that started the upwards climb.

.. Walter Russell Mead identified four schools of U.S. foreign policy; the

  1. pro-business Hamiltonians, the
  2. liberal-order Wilsonians, the
  3. realist Jeffersonians, and the
  4. mercurial, exceptionalist Jacksonians.

The election of President Donald Trump signaled the return of the Jacksonian impulse for the first time in a generation

.. And when it comes to war? Mead states that “when an enemy attacks, Jacksonians spring to the country’s defense” viscerally, and Jacksonians, like their namesake Andrew Jackson, will not stop until honor is satisfied. It is a dangerous impulse to stimulate, as China’s Li Kexin has done. China owes the United States a public apology. It now needs to accept a U.S. Navy port visit to Taiwan with a minimum of protests

.. Jerry Hendrix is a retired U.S. Navy captain, an award-winning naval historian ..

What David Brooks (Still) Doesn’t Understand About America

The whole point of America is that we are not a tribe. We are a universal nation, founded on universal principles, attracting talented people from across the globe, active across the world on behalf of all people who seek democracy and dignity”?

.. America was in fact a tribal enterprise.

.. Brooks would have us believe that the United States began as a pristine crusader state on behalf of global democracy and internationalism, a “universal nation” devoted to “diverse hopefulness” as opposed to “fear-driven homogeneity.” No, the people who ventured onto these shores and then pushed westward inexorably were highly conscious not only of their religious provenance but also of their cultural and ethnic heritage. They brutally pushed aside the aboriginal peoples, declined to mix with them, and created societies that mirrored those of the Old Country, even naming their towns and cities after those inhabited by their overseas ancestors.

.. No one expressed more forcefully than Theodore Roosevelt this sentiment that newcomers must assimilate into prevailing American culture, for that culture had no intention of adjusting to the newcomers. “We freely extend the hand of welcome and good fellowship to every man,” wrote Roosevelt, “no matter what his creed and birthplace, who comes here honestly intent on becoming a good United States citizen like the rest of us; but we have a right, and it is our duty, to demand that he shall indeed become so, and shall not confuse the issues with which we are struggling by introducing among us Old-World quarrels and prejudices.”

.. Brooks is not wrong when he says that much of the Trump constituency is driven by tribal impulses. But he is wrong to say that these sensibilities are un-American and the result of bigotry. Tribalism is a part of the American story

.. Today, the main enemy is not aliens; it’s division—between rich and poor, white and black, educated and less educated, right and left.

.. Trumpist populists want to widen the divisions and rearrange the fences. They want to turn us into an old, settled and fearful nation.

.. The divisions Brooks laments with such invidious intent won’t vanish until the fears and concerns of Trump voters are addressed in ways that can alleviate, at least to some extent, those grievances.

The Heritage of Natural Law: Mark Levin on Rediscovering Americanism

The Constitution safeguards the liberties that the Declaration of Independence represents but did not create.

.. The foundation of Americanism, he posits, is natural law. That does not just spontaneously appear, nor passively persevere. Understanding our natural-law roots, reaffirming our attachment to them in the teeth of the progressive project to supersede them — this is hard work.

.. right reason, “certain definite principles of action from which spring all virtues and whatever is necessary for the proper molding of morals.”

.. “True law is right reason in agreement with nature; it is of universal application, unchanging and everlasting.” It is reason that learning has cultivated for the pursuit of happiness.

.. Natural law is the basis for our conceit that no one may rule over another without his consent.

.. In the absence of natural law, we would be left to the tyranny of will — arbitrary morality and rights, dictated by those who had muscled their way to dominance.

.. For Levin, rationalizing such a muscular state is the 20th-century progressive project spearheaded by

  • Herbert Croly,
  • Theodore Roosevelt,
  • Woodrow Wilson,
  • John Dewey, and their progeny.

They built on the utopian foundation of the “philosopher-kings”:

  • Rousseau’s radical egalitarianism,
  • Hegel’s historicism,
  • Marx’s economic determinism and class struggle, and so on.

The rights of self-determination, self-governance, and private property — the blessings of liberty that are the heritage of natural law — are in peril, if not of extinction, at least of irreversible atrophy.

.. Mark Levin has not been content to inveigh against statism. In the last few years, he has offered concrete plans to roll it back, including a campaign for a convention of the states under Article V of the Constitution, aimed at stripping down Washington from without, since it will never reform itself from within.

The History of U.S. Intervention And The ‘Birth Of The American Empire’

In 1898, as you point out, the United States burst from being a continental empire, if you want to call it that, within North America to taking territory overseas for the first time in those countries that you mentioned. This was a huge turning point for the United States, and everybody that studies American history is aware of this episode.

.. As for Andrew Carnegie, he was a great believer in the principles of America. And in his famous article denouncing American expansion, he wrote, with what face shall we hang in the school houses of the Philippines our own Declaration of Independence and yet deny independence to them? The United States paid $20 million to Spain to buy the Philippines.

Andrew Carnegie offered to pay the U.S. Treasury $20 million to buy the Philippines so he could set the Philippines free and give them independence.

.. Teddy Roosevelt definitely believed that war was the only condition of life that was worth living, that peace was only for (unintelligible) jellyfish who had no place in the great American nation.

He wanted to go out and fight. Even when he sent his sons to fight in World War I, he wrote that he hoped they’d come back missing a few limbs. The business factor was also huge back in 1898 and has continued to be.

.. We’ve twisted ourselves into pretzel-like shapes over many years trying to explain what is Puerto Rico and what is Guam compared to the United States? And we do this because we can’t use the word colony. We can’t call them colonies, so they have to be dependencies, territories, commonwealth, free-associated state. We’ve gone through a whole vocabulary – a whole lexicon of vocabulary in order to get through this difficult minefield.

Break Up the Liberal City

if they are innovation capitals it’s a form of innovation that generates fewer jobs than past technological advance. If they produce some intellectual ferment they have also cloistered our liberal intelligentsia and actually weakened liberalism politically by concentrating its votes.

.. Liberalism has become more smug and out-of-touch; conservatism more anti-intellectual and buffoonish. The hive-mind genius supposedly generated by concentrating all the best and the brightest has given us great apps and some fun TV shows to binge-watch, but the 2000s and 2010s haven’t exactly been the Florentine Renaissance.